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Spotlight on retail trends at Asiafruit Congress

Expert speakers from IGD, Hema Supermarket, Sam’s Club and Walmart China to discuss the latest trends on Asia’s food retail scene

Spotlight on retail trends at Asiafruit Congress

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Asia’s fresh food retail landscape is changing fast. Online grocery retailing is powering ahead in a market where most people access the internet via their smartphones. Large food retail formats are focusing on ‘fresh’ as a footfall driver, smaller convenience stores are seeing a surge in growth while online retailers are going offline to better service their consumers. 

Through a mix of multimedia content, snappy presentations and live interviews, this year’s opening session to Asiafruit Congress will spotlight some of the latest trends and developments on Asia’s fast-moving food retail landscape. 

Setting the scene for the session ‘Fresh focus on food retail’, Shirley Zhu of global food and grocery analyst IGD will outline the macro-trends. Zhu, who leads IGD’s research programme in South East Asia, will discuss the ‘reshaping of hypermarkets’, the growth in ‘proximity retail’ and the ‘forefront of omnichannel’.

The session then homes in on the online-to-offline (O2O) trend. Alibaba-invested O2O fresh food chain Hema Supermarket has been a pioneer of the concept, with around ten stores in Shanghai. The company’s senior merchandising director Paul Sheh will join Asiafruit Congress moderator Chris White for a discussion about the evolution of this trend, and Hema’s future plans.

Traditional bricks and mortar retailers are increasingly taking a multi-channel approach in the fast-changing retail environment. Fresh food is playing an ever-more significant role as they seek to create a compelling and engaging in-store experience for consumers. But developing online platforms and offerings is also a priority for many players.

Walmart China and its high-end club format Sam’s Club China has become an ‘omnichannel’ retailer following the group’s purchase of a strategic stake in Both retail brands now have native apps and flagships on and they cover last mile delivery. Walmart operates 420 hypermarkets across China with a mass market positioning while Sam’s Club has 17 upmarket clubs. With these physical stores and online platforms, the group boasts significant scale and buying power.

Sam’s Club China’s chief merchandising officer Yoep Man and Winstone Chee, vice-president of fresh food merchandising at Walmart China, will join White for a live interview to discuss how the group is developing its offering for consumers, right from direct sourcing to value-adding.

The session will explore the implications of these trends for suppliers, with delegates having the opportunity to submit questions in real-time via the Asiafruit Congress  online app as well as putting them in person to speakers in the interactive discussion.  

Taking place the day before Asia Fruit Logistica, Asia’s premier fresh produce conference returns to AsiaWorld-Expo on 5 September with a high-powered programme covering a range of hot topics. Other general sessions at Asiafruit Congress focus on localising global brands, and at the changing global trade landscape.

Breakout sessions home in on: success strategies for EU suppliers to Asia; Vietnam’s position and potential as a market; the emergence of B2B e-commerce platforms; and protecting IP varieties and brands in China.

Zespri’s global general manager of marketing Jiunn Shih, Rabobank’s senior Asia-Pacific strategist Michael Every and Dole China’s commercial director Andy Zhang are just some of the high-profile speakers lined up for this year’s Asiafruit Congress.


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